What is it about a beautiful vista that soothes the soul so effectively? Maybe it’s the permanence that nature represents in a time of so much upheaval. Or maybe it’s just nice to be reminded that the world is so much bigger than the few rooms or blocks that most of us have been confined to for the past few weeks.
While, like most Americans, I’m at home, it hasn’t prevented me from embarking on some outdoor adventures. Okay, I’ve been doing it online, but it’s been invigorating checking out some of the most beautiful places in the country without disobeying Atlanta’s shelter-in-place order.
Here’s a rundown of some of great natural spaces you can check out on your computer from the friendly confines of your own living room (in no particular order):
Go on five national park virtual tours. The National Park Service (NPS) teamed up with Google Earth to deliver some jaw-dropping shots of National Parks in Alaska, Hawai, Utah, New Mexico and Florida. Park rangers at each park offer some great introductory footage. Plus, there are nifty features that let you use Google Earth controls to explore a couple of different adventures in each park.
If you need more to fill your National Park yearnings, Google Earth has compiled an additional 31 Park adventures. There isn’t fancy narration with these, but you can hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from your couch!
Did you know the U.S. also has a network of underwater parksl? The National Marine Sanctuaries oversee these breathtaking places, which encompass more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters. Thankfully, the organization has a pretty great website that lets you explore a bunch of these locales via 3-D photos. The website also has some great dive videos. My favorite was this one that let’s you dive off the coast of the Channel Islands with a friendly sea lion!
I once hiked the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. It rained almost the entire time, but it was still a blast. Despite my best intentions, I have yet to get back on this incredible trail. Whie I definitely won’t be hitting any trailheads anytime soon, a friend turned me on to the concept of youtube trail videos, which let you ride along with hikers on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. This article sums up this cool but kooky youtube niche and gives you a couple places to start.
My last suggestion is less flora and more fauna. I recommend we all spend quality time with some feathered friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cam line-up. They’ve got lots of highlight reels to choose from, but my top pick is checking out a live nest cam (ideally one with some eggs close to hatching!) and settling in.
State Director, Environment Georgia
As director, Jennette coordinates policy development, research, outreach and legislative advocacy for Environment Georgia. She has run successful campaigns to designate Georgia’s first outstanding national resource water along the headwaters of the Conasauga River, expand parks along the Chattahoochee River and Jekyll Island State Park, and stop construction of three new coal-fired power plants in Georgia, while also advocating for solar policies that have helped make Georgia one of the top 10 states for solar in the country. She serves on the leadership team for the Georgia Water Coalition, and on the boards of Citizens for Progressive Transit and The Georgia Solar Energy Association. Jennette lives in Atlanta, where she enjoys training for triathlons and hiking and camping in Georgia’s mountains.